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Author: OrmontUS Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 21031  
Subject: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/29/2012 6:56 PM
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It has become a tradition for me to post the progress I’m making when we take one of our longer trips. While this one, at a bit over three months, is not the longest we’ve taken, this one includes the longest on a single cruise ship (our previous longest was about 70 days).

Because the first week of our next long trip starts on January 3 and is spent on a ship without intermediate ports of call, and because I try to post on a weekend (so as not to clutter up the board’s “work” during the week), the next update of our status could be as soon as January 13th from Lisbon, but because we probably wouldn’t have seen very much by then (except maybe Stonehenge if timing works out), it may have to wait until we are on the other side of the Suez Canal (this would mean breaking the weekend rule and posting on January 24 – the planets are just not aligning properly for a rational posting schedule).

I am calling the coming trip “Jeff goes East” for obvious reasons (though later on, we make a U-turn and return). We are again crossing the Atlantic by ship to get to England, but due to schedule issues will be flying back. We lucked out in that Cunard Line’s Queen Mary leaves from Red Hook Brooklyn (a 15 minute cab ride from where we live) and docks in Southampton, UK on January 10 about a mile from where the Holland America Line MS Rotterdam leaves the same evening for the balance of our trip.

While we tend to pack lighter than most because we are used to lugging our stuff with us (like on last summer’s trip), we now have the ability to take what seems like an unlimited amount of stuff. The trans-Atlantic crossing on the Queen Mary was incredibly cheap when we snagged it (not much more than flying in coach), so we splurged a bit for the return trip and asked for business class. Cunard put us on Virgin Atlantic in something like “upper crust” class which allows us to take three 75 pound suitcases and two carry-ons each back home (and of course, there virtually no limit on what we can take with us on the outbound ship). We will likely drag less than half what we are allowed (unless we buy something like furniture along the way : - ).

I received a robo-call yesterday from Cunard that boarding will be four hours later than originally because the ship’s passengers have been hit by a highly contagious gastro-intestinal virus and they need the time to disinfect the ship before we board. Because this is our first time traveling on Cunard, I called them up to find out what time we should come and they said 5PM and that the ship will depart at 9PM. Apparently the ship will still get to Southampton on time because it only needs five days to cross, but they take seven days to save fuel (and increase revenue?). Early this morning, my telephone bells went off (I set them at a volume designed to wake the dead – me as well) as Cunard sent a fax at 3:20AM to inform us of the same thing, but listing 5PM as a departure time. While I don’t want to waste time milling around a crowded terminal (especially with no elite status on this line), I also don’t want to be left behind, so after speaking to them again, I guess 5PM is the best time to show up.

We will be embarking on another adventurous (I hope) voyage trip of a bit over three months, which will start near home in Brooklyn, N.Y., cross the Atlantic by ship, head through the Straits of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, around the coast of India (with a few days of going AWOL to see the Taj Mahal), and onwards to Singapore and a week bouncing around Indonesia.

The return voyage will bring us into the Persian Gulf on the way back to Southampton in the UK. We will be hitting quite a few places in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There will be a number of iconic spots that are “must see’s” that we will probably bypass because we have seen them before (and the side trips are long and expensive to sites that haven’t changed much in hundreds or thousands of years). At those spots I will point out what we are missing (though I would recommend seeing if you’ve not been there in the past) and move on to what we will be doing instead. At the end, sort of as a desert, we will be seeing ”The Book of Morman” in London before spending some time with our traveling companions of last summer in preparation for the flight home on April 10.

If anything is worth doing, then it’s worth doing to excess.

We will be stopping at a number of the PIIGS (a few stops in Spain, a few in Italy, a couple in Greece and one in Portugal, but repeating it on the round trip). We will be hitting a few countries which participated in the Arab spring, with a stop in Tunisia, a couple in Egypt and one in Salalah, Oman (as well as a number of other stops in North Africa and the Persian Gulf (and presumably a trip through both pirate country and the Israeli bulls-eye). In fact, I just realized that, with our stops in Indonesia and Malaysia, we are probably visiting about a half of the Moslem nations of the world.

1. Applied for Visas.
We need Visas for:
India
Indonesia
Egypt
UAE
Oman
Sri Lanka


I decided to pick up only Indian visa (10 year, multi-entry as I suspect we will return in the future), and Oman prior to departing. You can receive the other Visas onboard the ship. Luckily, I live in NYC which has just about everyone’s consulate so this can be set up without the help of an expeditor. Basically it generally requires a filled application, along with photos and payment. Some applications have a sense of humor when they ask that I list EVERY country I have been to in the last 10 years and give space for six or seven.

2. Extra passport pages.
We recently renewed our passports and again got the 48 page versions to give a little extra room for visas, stamps, etc..

3. Get immunizations.
There are no required inoculations for the countries we’re visiting, but we have current:
Yellow Fever
Hepatitis A and B
Typhoid
Tdap - Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis
Flu Shot

We are taking some 100% DEET, but will be taking some anti-malaria pills for India and Indonesia.
We considered polio boosters but elected to pass

4. Finalizing the excursions.

There have been many people aboard who have organized tours in the different cities and I have asked for us to be added to these various tours (I set up the Taj Mahal, Wadi Rum (Jordan) and Sicilian excursions for five of us on the first and eight on the second as it they were a bit complicated and I didn’t want to trust the planning to someone else). One benefit of these tours is that you are going with a very small group of people on a self-organized tour that costs a fourth of the cost of the Holland America excursions. The negative is that the ship could leave without us if our tour group does not return to the port on time! Yer pays yer money and takes yer choice!

So what do you pack?? So I have made lists and lists and even more lists!

We have

The Essential List - which includes everything I couldn't live without on this trip, like our passports, a first aid kit, anti-malaria pills, a tuxedo/gown and a case of good wine.

The Electronics List - chargers, laptop (a replacement of the one busted on the last trip – actually a cannibalized combination of that one and another similar one picked up on E-Bay), high gain folding 802.11n antenna, unlocked GSM cell phones, Kindle (replacement for the one that crapped out on the last trip – this is a backup to the laptop as it can use the internet in a pinch), camera (small Nikon AW-100 rugged, built-in GPS and submersible), TomTom GPS with maps for most of the places we are hitting, Samsung 7 inch Tab 2 (rooted, of course), pocket binoculars, etc.

The Clothing List - this one is not as long as it is for most people as we tend to travel light!

The Cosmetic List – Wife’s job – I still can’t figure out why this has to fill a shoe box sized space (though I just got her a small set of electric rollers which she explained was a good investment – her perception of investing and mine are apparently different : -)

The Medical List - for emergencies - hopefully there will be none – includes stuff for all sorts of stomach maladies, antibiotics, first aid stuff, etc.

The Leaving Home Checklist - reminders and things to do before leaving home, such as file an extension on my taxes, turn off the electric, remove my battery cable in my care, etc.

The Miscellaneous and Extras List - duct tape, extension cord, snorkel/goggles/fins, bubble wrap, surgical tubing (tourniquet, gas tank syphon), water purification tablets, jeweler’s loupe, bungee cord, waterproof matches, magnesium ribbon, hemostat, Leatherman, Swiss army knife, decent cork screw, a few small tools, Spiderco folding knife and so on... the just in case things!
I will try to cover not only the usual travelogue stuff, but my perceptions of the economic, political and social issues which are important (as well as any ramifications to us in the States).

Our schedule:

Date Port
10-Jan-13 Southampton (London), England
11-Jan-13 At Sea
12-Jan-13 At Sea
13-Jan-13 Lisbon, Portugal
14-Jan-13 At Sea
15-Jan-13 Malaga, Spain
16-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
17-Jan-13 La Goulette (Tunis), Tunisia
18-Jan-13 Valletta, Malta
19-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
20-Jan-13 Nafplion, Greece TR
21-Jan-13 Piraeus (Athens), Greece
22-Jan-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
23-Jan-13 Enter Suez Canal at Port Said CO
23-Jan-13 Daylight transit Suez Canal CO
23-Jan-13 Exit Suez Canal at Suez CO
24-Jan-13 Safaga, Egypt
25-Jan-13 At Sea
26-Jan-13 At Sea
27-Jan-13 At Sea
28-Jan-13 At Sea
29-Jan-13 At Sea
30-Jan-13 At Sea
31-Jan-13 Dubai, United Arab Emirates ON VX
1-Feb-13 Dubai, United Arab Emirates VX
2-Feb-13 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate VX
3-Feb-13 At Sea
4-Feb-13 At Sea
5-Feb-13 At Sea
6-Feb-13 Marmagao (Goa), India VX
7-Feb-13 Mangalore, India VX
8-Feb-13 Cochin, India VX
9-Feb-13 At Sea
10-Feb-13 At Sea
11-Feb-13 Port Blair, India TR VX
12-Feb-13 At Sea
13-Feb-13 Porto Malai, Malaysia
14-Feb-13 Port Kelang, Malaysia
15-Feb-13 Singapore
16-Feb-13 At Sea
17-Feb-13 Tanjung Priok, Jakarta VX
18-Feb-13 Semarang, Java, Indonesia VX
19-Feb-13 At Sea
20-Feb-13 Tanah Ampo, Bali, Indonesia ON TR VX
21-Feb-13 Tanah Ampo, Bali, Indonesia TR VX
22-Feb-13 Lembar, Lombok, Indonesia TR VX
23-Feb-13 Komodo Island, Indonesia TR VX
24-Feb-13 Ujung Padang, Indonesia VX
25-Feb-13 At Sea
26-Feb-13 Probolinggo, Java, Indonesia TR VX
27-Feb-13 Surabaya, Indonesia VX
28-Feb-13 At Sea
1-Mar-13 Singapore
2-Mar-13 At Sea
3-Mar-13 Penang, Malaysia
4-Mar-13 Phuket, Thailand
5-Mar-13 At Sea
6-Mar-13 At Sea
7-Mar-13 Colombo, Sri Lanka
8-Mar-13 At Sea
9-Mar-13 At Sea
10-Mar-13 Mumbai (Bombay), India ON VX
11-Mar-13 Mumbai (Bombay), India VX
12-Mar-13 At Sea
13-Mar-13 At Sea
14-Mar-13 Muscat, Oman ON VX
15-Mar-13 Muscat, Oman VX
16-Mar-13 At Sea
17-Mar-13 Salalah, Oman VX
18-Mar-13 At Sea
19-Mar-13 At Sea
20-Mar-13 At Sea
21-Mar-13 At Sea
22-Mar-13 Aqaba (for Petra), Jordan VX
23-Mar-13 Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
24-Mar-13 Enter Suez Canal at Suez CO
24-Mar-13 Daylight transit Suez Canal CO
24-Mar-13 Exit Suez Canal at Port Said CO
25-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
26-Mar-13 Piraeus (Athens), Greece
27-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
28-Mar-13 Messina, Italy
29-Mar-13 Naples, Italy
30-Mar-13 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
31-Mar-13 At Sea (Mediterranean Sea) CO
1-Apr-13 Alicante, Spain
2-Apr-13 Almeria, Spain
3-Apr-13 Tangier, Morocco
4-Apr-13 Cadiz (Seville), Spain
5-Apr-13 Lisbon, Portugal
6-Apr-13 At Sea
7-Apr-13 At Sea
8-Apr-13 Southampton (London), England
10-Apr-13
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Author: TMFHockeypop Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19149 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 1:31 AM
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1. You remind me that it is VERY nice to be able to sail from Brooklyn or Bayonne, NJ if you are sailing these days, especially in winter. If you live in the East, why risk the flight when these two ports are so convenient?

2. Great list! We're headed to Australia in May (will post soon) and I have to both renew the passport and get a Visa. I didn't see any convenience items for the plane. Noise cancelling headsets and those inflatable neck collars are very nice for most flights.

3. Great reports. It's wonderful (and cheaper) to live vicariously through everyone's travel. Besides, it gives me ideas.

Bob ... who is outlining a series of non-financial articles for Rule Your Retirement and you reminded me of a section I need.

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Author: OrmontUS Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19150 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 11:06 AM
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If you are renewing your passport, make sure to ask for one with the max number of pages (I think it's 48, but they may have up'ed it to 52). It's free at renewal time, but costs money to add them latter (and you're without a passport for a period of time). While I picked up the renewal forms at the Post Office, I didn't bother paying them extra for their "expediting" (I think they provided no particular benefit) and just sent the stuff in by certified mail.

If you travel a lot, you might want to consider a US Custom's Global Entry card. It's hundred bucks (or free if you have an Amex Platinum card - well, not free, but credited to your account). On domestic flights you go to the front of the line and on international you identify at a kiosk and then walk out of the airport without the Immigration and Custom's lines. The $100 pays for a background check, a face-to-face interview with customs, fingerprinting, photographs, etc., but you end up with a pretty cool looking "national ID card".

The card comes in a metallic lined sleeve to protect its embedded microchip from being read remotely. After seeing that, I lined the inside of the binder that we carry our passports and credit cards in with aluminum foil for the same reason. (Yes, I am aware that you can buy commercial holders that provide radio shielding, but I like this particular case and as long as its esthetically hidden for cosmetic purposes, aluminum foil is just as effective as any of the commercial products).

The only flight on this trip is the return which I ended up splurging on and we're sitting near the cockpit. One of the tricks I've used when sitting in the back of the bus is to buy one of those inflatable donuts used by people with hemorrhoids, half inflate it and slip it into a "mini" pillowcase. This idea was an outgrowth of traveling a lot with a handicapped child and placing his gel filled wheelchair seat on top of the airline seat during flights - then wondering why he should be the only one with a comfortable seat in coach.

My current challenge is the same I face at wedding buffets. We have no weight limit on what we cart aboard the ship in Brooklyn and our return flight allows three 75 pound suitcases and two 30 pound carry-ons each for a total of 570 pounds of luggage :-). The pragmatic limitation is what will fit into a taxi (it would be nuts to have to hire a second cab to carry our baggage train) and the social aspect is that I wouldn't know what to do with all those clothes. I find myself taking rare luxuries, like taking an extra pair of sandals and both a black and a brown pair of shoes. I think we will end up with three suitcases and two carry-ons (one filled with 14 bottles of wine - which will return filled with air).

Two of our large luggage pieces are a couple of decade old Samsonite/American Tourister hardsided pieces. These bags are bulletproof, but with the new weight limits on most airlines going from 75 pounds to 50 pounds, they just weigh too much. Also the four wheel "spinners" are far easier to handle that these bags which have wheels on the long side (though I am concerned that the spinners may be prone to damage by carriers). That said, I insist on hardsides and I don't like zippers as they are prone to trouble. Last summer I bought a Samsonite hardsided spinner in France with lockable clamps to close it (on summer sale at Prentemp, plus additional discount because it had a small scratch - collected a lot more since) that weighs about 6 pounds less than our current luggage. Doing a bit of research on the web brings me to the conclusion that these bags sell cheapest in Italy compared to any of the other countries we are visiting (using www.samsonite.XX, where XX is the country I'm checking), so I may swap our pieces there.

We've packed everything except the electronics (still using some of them) just to take the pressure off of that step.

While cruises do not allow you to see a country in depth and are no substitute for spending a month or two roaming around, they do cover a lot of distance and can be surprisingly economical compared to traveling and staying in hotels of an equivalent number of "stars". They can also be cost effective and far more comfortable (as well as more interesting) when traveling between continents.

I look forward to your posts from Australia.

Jeff

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Author: Globetraveler Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19151 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 11:48 AM
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Awesome post! I hope you have a wonderful trip.

It would be interesting to break down the lists for those that take shorter trips. Heading out for three months -vs- a week is a bit different.

The Essential List - which includes everything I couldn't live without on this trip, like our passports, a first aid kit, anti-malaria pills, a tuxedo/gown and a case of good wine.

I'm not sure I would consider a tux and a case of wine essential, but one's person essential items are another person's excess. It made me laugh and think of someone someone saying, "We are not going anywhere until there is decent wine!"

Minus the formal ware and wine, my list is about the same. Passports, credit cards, cash, first aid kit, and medications. The only thing I add on the essentials list is contact info for the US consulates if I am traveling to a foreign country. Added to this list is contact numbers for hotels, airlines, travel agents, etc. I also have a couple of paper copies of my passport picture page. I also have a copy securely stored online, just in case.

Some might balk at carrying a "first-aid" kit. The one I carry has a lot of basic stuff, however it will make the trip a whole lot better when you need something for a headaches, stomach ailments, etc. Basically, I spruced up a prepackaged kit similar to this: http://www.rei.com/product/784609/adventure-medical-kits-sma...

For electronic items, unless I'm on an extended trip, I don't carry a laptop, unless I know I will have required "company work", I just carry my iPad and connect via the hotel internet. I've found that this seems to work well and cuts down on a ton of carry on weight. My iPad has become my all-in-one travel item. It has books, movies, music, and internet abilities. I don't plan doing that much time on the internet or computers, so a laptop is redundant on shorter trips. Then again, I certainly can see the advantage as I've read your wonderfully detailed postings from various places, so I'm thinking about adding a keyboard to the iPad for my next trip.

For my Miscellaneous and Extras List - duct tape, and a Leatherman are on my list as well. It sounds silly, but you can do a lot with those two items alone. I also add Velco tape. It's very useful for securing cords and keeping items together. It's also the most "stolen" item out of my luggage. I've had 6-7 rolls taken on various trips into southern Africa.

I'm sure I am not covering nearly everything, however it is a start. On my next trip, I'll have to really make a detailed list of what I take and more importantly, what I don't take.

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Author: Globetraveler Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19152 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 12:09 PM
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If you travel a lot, you might want to consider a US Custom's Global Entry card. It's hundred bucks (or free if you have an Amex Platinum card - well, not free, but credited to your account). On domestic flights you go to the front of the line and on international you identify at a kiosk and then walk out of the airport without the Immigration and Custom's lines. The $100 pays for a background check, a face-to-face interview with customs, fingerprinting, photographs, etc., but you end up with a pretty cool looking "national ID card".

Just to clarify slightly, if you have a Global Entry card, you are also automatically enrolled in the domestic screening program, T.S.A. PreCheck. It is available with specific airports and airlines in the US, allowing one to use the Priority Screening lane. More details are here: http://www.tsa.gov/tsa-pre%E2%9C%93%E2%84%A2/tsa-pre%E2%9C%9...

The biggest issue with the Global Entry card for me is that it doesn't really save much time, it just keeps you out of waiting in a line. Unless you are traveling with just carry-on, you still have to wait for your luggage after going through immigration. I don't know how many times I've gone through immigration normally, only to still be waiting for my bags.

While you can get if free with AMEX platinum, that card has a $450 annual fee, so you better be getting use of some of the other benefits as well.

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Author: OrmontUS Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19153 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 4:43 PM
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Globetraveler brings up a number of interesting points.

Before I respond, I believe the Global Entry card is now accepted in Australia as well (which may help Hockypop out).

The card does not help save total time if you have checked luggage. It does save time when checking in (and a bit of stress as you no longer have to remove shoes, laptops, etc.). That said, while a trip like this is an exception, we tend to travel with "carry-on" luggage in general, even on long trips. As an example, on last summer's trip, we left our large luggage pieces in Amsterdam at the end of our cruise across the pond, traipsed around Europe for 2 1/2 months with carry-ons (at least until we bought the bargain priced full sized luggage piece that I couldn't pass on :-). The card doesn't help in Europe, just pointing out the realities of how we tend to travel.

You are correct that the Amex Platinum card costs $450. I picked it up about a year ago after lots of filling out the on line form and then canceling. If you travel a LOT, it's worthwhile. It gets you all sorts of perks (which are not necessarily dollars you'd spend, but make life easier) and a number of actual cost savings which make the card more or less break even. An example of one of the perks is that doing a travel agency registration of the Queen Mary booking with AMEX (don't have to do the reservation with them) got me $100 cruise credit (goes towards tips, so a real monetary benefit) and a bottle of wine. Their concierge was able to get me excellent tickets to the Book of Mormon at below the box office price for the night we'll be in London, despite it being nearly sold out. And so on. I'm not upset that I got it and have gotten more benefit than it cost, but it's not a slam dunk for most people.

The tuxedo is more of a social necessity. Cunard has five formal nights out of the seven night cruise. There are 22 formal nights on the HAL cruise (which is going to be more formal anyway because most of the passengers are likely to be European). I guess I could either stand on principle and eat in the buffet on formal nights, or of course I could wear a suit (at least on HAL) and not look too out of place, but it would be gauche of me to show up at the table in a shirt with an opened collar when the rest of the table was getting dressed. While the store has unfortunately closed a few months ago, you used to be able to buy brand name wool tuxedos at Sym's in NYC for less than $150 (and if you get a classical style they can be used for years, so renting one never made sense).

The 14 bottles of wine is not an unreasonable quantity for a three month trip (works out to a bottle a week). After leaving London, the ship hits Lisbon on a Sunday and then, while I guess I could buy some wine in Spain, we might be too busy actually doing tourist stuff :-). We are not big drinkers, but we found that being able to either offer or reciprocate with an invite to a our cabin for a before dinner glass of wine helps us meet people. On a ship where bottles of wine are marked up 400%, it just makes sense to bring some of your own. We don't drink the wine in public rooms or the dining room to avoid ruffling the feathers of the bar staff. Again, in a strict context not a necessity, but a useful item to take along.

I would strongly advocate a keyboard if you are taking an iPad. I took one on a previous trip along with my laptop (a 10.5", 2.8 pound unit), but found the laptop far more useful for the tasks that I do. This time, I'm taking a 7 inch tablet along, just to see if the smaller size offers more efficacy - we'll see. The B&W keyboard Kindle (besides being what "The Boss" reads on) is specifically and uniquely useful for backup communications aboard ships.

The complete list of what we're taking is actually much longer and detailed down to the last detail, but would probably bore most people. It includes a couple of different types of sunscreen, insect repellent, crushable hats, etc., etc. One of the innovations is that, unless only traveling to warm climates, we travel with feather-light, high loft, hooded down light jackets as well as Gortex hooded shells. The down jackets pack down to about the size of a couple of pairs of socks (my wife's folds into its own pocket) and is warm down to freezing. To get more warmth, it can be worn under the shell, for less, just the rain shell can be worn. We also carry a couple of very thin plastic rain parkas that fit in your pocket. All sorts of folding bags with shoulder straps, webbed straps to hold luggage from busting opened if dropped - the list would be pages long if we bothered to document everything (actually, most of the travel items are kept together to make packing for the next trip easier and just replaced as they get used up or busted - or taken out if they end up being a silly idea after all.

Jeff

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Author: TMFPMarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19154 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 7:06 PM
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The tuxedo is more of a social necessity. Cunard has five formal nights out of the seven night cruise.

This just in from Phil's Warehouse of Useless Information, At Sea section. One doesn't dress first and last nights because first night your maid and valet are still unpacking your steamer trunks, and last night they're reversing the process. The modern equivalent is that your luggage still hasn't been delivered to your cabin, and you're starving.

Have you crossed on the QM2 before? I had a ball. There were some fascinating lectures, and there's always more than one activity to choose from if you want to be occupied. My only scheduling complaint was that except for one day there wasn't time for my bridge partner (Liz Taylor, a charming Sussex divorcee) and I to make it to the formal tea service, so we took tea at the buffet. The ship is huge, and it can take a while to get from Point A to Point B.

My most delightful discovery was that they have a kennel! Evidently the UK's quarantine has been modified so that you can do the quarantine before you arrive. One of the dog owners invited me to go with her one day during visiting hours. It was a blast.

And if they're still serving the chicken liver and poached egg appetizer at an evening's dinner, get two. Best single dish of the voyage.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool

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Author: Globetraveler Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19155 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 7:07 PM
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Jeff,

You are correct that the Amex Platinum card costs $450. I picked it up about a year ago after lots of filling out the on line form and then canceling. If you travel a LOT, it's worthwhile. It gets you all sorts of perks (which are not necessarily dollars you'd spend, but make life easier) and a number of actual cost savings which make the card more or less break even.

You illustrate the exact point I was getting at. There are some great benefits for AMEX platinum, however you need to be in a position to use them.

The tuxedo is more of a social necessity.

I understand the reason for the tux, I was just saying it's not normally on my list. I apologize if I sounded like I just being a jerk, that was not my intention. Same goes for the wine.

I would strongly advocate a keyboard if you are taking an iPad. I took one on a previous trip along with my laptop (a 10.5", 2.8 pound unit), but found the laptop far more useful for the tasks that I do

I'll agree the laptop is always more useful. I'm just trying to figure out if it is now a "must take" item on my shorter trips. I think with an iPad keyboard, I can avoid taking it on most of them. Plus, some of the travel apps I use on it and the iPhone I just love.

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19156 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 9:40 PM
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The tuxedo is more of a social necessity. Cunard has five formal nights out of the seven night cruise.

Is this common? 1poorlady is wanting a cruise, but I don't do tuxedos (except for VERY special circumstances...like my wedding). I also strongly resist ties (even the bola ties of the southwest, where I live). Ties are for interviews.

When I'm on vacation the LAST thing I want is to be forced to wear a suit or tuxedo. I could be convinced to wear a shirt with buttons for a really nice restaurant or venue, but that's about it.

That's just me, of course. Others may really enjoy such things. It's just not my style.

1poorguy

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19157 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 11:27 PM
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Is this common? 1poorlady is wanting a cruise, but I don't do tuxedos (except for VERY special circumstances...like my wedding). I also strongly resist ties (even the bola ties of the southwest, where I live). Ties are for interviews.

----------------

Yes, it's very common, but it's also easy to opt out by eating at the buffet on formal nights.

Grue

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Author: TMFPMarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19158 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/30/2012 11:43 PM
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1poorlady is wanting a cruise, but I don't do tuxedos (except for VERY special circumstances...like my wedding). I also strongly resist ties (even the bola ties of the southwest, where I live). Ties are for interviews.

When I'm on vacation the LAST thing I want is to be forced to wear a suit or tuxedo. I could be convinced to wear a shirt with buttons for a really nice restaurant or venue, but that's about it.

That's just me, of course. Others may really enjoy such things. It's just not my style.


All the cruise companies' websites have FAQ's which address dress code and other onboard policies. Norwegian emphasizes their "Freestyle" cruising, which does away with dress codes except for a few minimal rules. If you can't comply with those (no shorts in the dining room at dinner, e.g.) and still have a good time you're a slob, not relaxed.

I love the look of the public rooms on formal nights when everyone's gussied up. I missed that on Norwegian. That's why they make chocolate and vanilla. But more to the point than your style or mine is 1poorlady's since she's the one wanting to cruise. If she'd really look forward to playing dressup in a more restricted environment a couple of nights, maybe she could go with a girlfriend.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool

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Author: fleg9bo Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19159 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 2:30 AM
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The tuxedo is more of a social necessity.

Back during the frothy days of the dot-com bubble, DW's high-tech company sent a thousand salespersons and their partners to Sydney as a reward for making their quotas. DW was the HR director for the sales organization so we got to go, too.

One requirement was that I either bring a tux or arrange to rent one upon arrival, so I went out and bought one. The reason was that the company rented the Opera House for a private performance for us and formalwear was required for that and the pre-performance dinner. I still have the tux, which is a little big on me right now, I guess. I say "guess" because I haven't worn it since.

--fleg

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Author: barneybetty Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19160 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 8:13 AM
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HI Jeff,

You may want to consider a polio booster amongst your vaccines. India is one of the still infected countries, and even if the probability of your coming into contact with the virus is very small, the shot is worthwhile. It's a lifetime booster.

BB

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Author: ChiliChild Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19161 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 9:24 AM
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but I don't do tuxedos (except for VERY special circumstances...like my wedding). I also strongly resist ties (even the bola ties of the southwest, where I live). Ties are for interviews.

ChiliSpouse agrees with you. On the Alaska cruise, we ate at one of the other restaurants onboard on formal night.

We are doing one more cruise in 2013, the Russian River Cruise on Viking Cruise Lines, and I just checked again: there are no formal nights. Dress is casual. There might be "dressy casual" events (Captain's reception), but attendance is not required. CS would never have considered any other kind of cruise, unfortunately.

Chili

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Author: OrmontUS Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19162 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 12:12 PM
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First thanks to BB - I'll try to get the polio booster (but time is short). Globetrotter was not being a jerk, just pointing out the obvious.

Look, on the tux thing, I'm not a prig. I chose the cruise ships we are on because of the itineraries. There are plenty of ships where "formal" is not done, but they didn't meet other criteria I looked at. I own a tux (bought years ago at Sym's in NYC - now unfortunately a fatality of our current economic downturn - who sold name brand wool monkey suits for under $150) and since they don't go out of style if you choose a conservative one, have probably worn it 30 times over the years. It's no big deal and if the appropriate good looking dame (THE BOSS) is along with me, it makes me feel like a cross between being in a B&W 1930's movie and being James Bond :-).

Of course, I could show up on a formal night wearing a bathing suit and robe to prove a point, but the point would be that I was being a fool. Nowadays Holland America lets you wear a dark suit and tie instead of the tux (and I'm taking one of those as well for variety). And, as has been pointed out, for the rugged non-conformists, there is always the buffet (but that somehow lacks the ambiance).

My biggest challenge is shoes. After justifying (rationalizing) based on the unlimited availability of luggage, I've settled on a pair of black leather loafers (will also wear these with the tux even though they are a bit informal), a pair of brown leather lace-ups, a pair of Five-Fingers to use as water shoes and general off-the ship stuff (it's fun to see the looks on people's faces who haven't seen these :-), a pair of Noat leather "walking" sandals, a pair of light hiking boots for volcano climbing, etc. (this bulk usually gets worn when I take them during travel so they don't fill the luggage, but this time I have space to burn) and a pair of Merril slip-ons that I have found to be extremely comfortable as walking shoes. In a nod towards economy of space, the shoes are filled with socks, underwear and so on to save space.

The suitcases weight in at 55-58 pounds each, but I laugh at these puny weight requirements as it "don't matter none" 'cause I'm going by boat (and most of that differential will be shed if I pick up new bags when we hit Italy).

BTW, while it's not exactly the same as the list I use, this one is pretty good:

http://www.travelsmith.com/wcsstore/images/TravelSmith/trave...

Jeff

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19163 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 12:43 PM
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ChiliSpouse agrees with you. On the Alaska cruise, we ate at one of the other restaurants onboard on formal night.

------------------

I'd rather not carry the tux with us, and I don't enjoy getting dressed up. However, Lovely Wife (LW) really enjoys a formal evening every once in a while, so I get dressed up. I must admit that she looks wonderful on those evenings,and the smile on her face makes my discomfort completely worth the reward.

I enjoy dressing casually, but my time living in Europe taught me that dressing appropriately for the occasion really enhances the experience. Even just a nice shirt and a pair of slacks gets us better service and a friendlier reception from the other patrons. The term used for the Americans that come to the restaurants in jeans and a t-shirt translates approximately as "slobs".

Grue

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19164 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 12:56 PM
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The suitcases weight in at 55-58 pounds each, but I laugh at these puny weight requirements as it "don't matter none" 'cause I'm going by boat (and most of that differential will be shed if I pick up new bags when we hit Italy).

----------------

I like the bags offered in Europe over those sold here, and I'll bet that the prices in Italy are a lot better than in Vienna.

I also have my standard packing list, and I can pack for a business trip in less than a half hour. The only additions for an international trip are adapters and a passport.

If the trip is for pleasure, the camera equipment means that I won't be able to get by with only carry ons.

Grue

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Author: TMFPMarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19165 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 2:43 PM
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I also have my standard packing list, and I can pack for a business trip in less than a half hour.

When I traveled a lot for business I packed as I dressed on Monday morning. As I put on an item I put what I'd need of that item in the suitcase, which had a permanent stash of toiletries. By the time I was dressed I thew in a knockabout t-shirt and shorts for the hotel room and I was packed and ready to go. After I dressed on my last morning I had nothing but dirty clothes, which cram into the oddest spaces.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool

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Author: ChiliChild Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19166 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 2:57 PM
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Even just a nice shirt and a pair of slacks gets us better service and a friendlier reception from the other patrons. The term used for the Americans that come to the restaurants in jeans and a t-shirt translates approximately as "slobs".


He has no objection to slacks, nice shirt and blazer and never wore t-shirt and jeans to dinner on the first cruise. He disposed of 15 suits when he retired from executive-in-Big-Corporation life, and wished them good riddance. He might prefer to dress like an American slob, but that doesn't happen on my watch when we're traveling. I just try real hard not to put him in tie-required situations despite enjoying a dress-up occasion myself.

Chili

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19167 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 5:24 PM
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If you can't comply with those (no shorts in the dining room at dinner, e.g.) and still have a good time you're a slob, not relaxed.

Good to know I fall into the "relaxed" category! :-)

If she'd really look forward to playing dressup in a more restricted environment a couple of nights, maybe she could go with a girlfriend.

Actually, she doesn't like it either. At least not to the point of wearing a gown, etc. She's fine with a dress (though she prefers slacks), or other office attire. But that's about it.

1poorguy

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Author: OrmontUS Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19168 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 6:33 PM
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Grue,

Because of the amount of traveling we do, we're pretty particular about the suitcases we use. They have to keep the stuff inside protected from the gentle ministrations of assorted baggage handlers (and my own clumsiness). In the US, every manufacturer has ceased manufacturing (or offering) hard sided suitcases, other than those with zippers. The sides are thin and push in and the zippers are fragile. The only exception are the cases made in Germany by Rimowa which are extremely expensive. Samsonite makes lightweight, but tough hard sided cases in Europe which are not distributed in the US. They are functionally equivalent to the plastic Rimona's, but cost a fraction of the price (while still not cheap by US standards). A large bag (depending on specific style) runs about 200 Euros in Italy (same bag is 200 pounds in the UK, for example), from which I would get back about 28 Euros in VAT tax rebate when I take it from the EU.

On carry-ons, I'm a bit jaded having owned one of the earlier TravelPro Crew versions which was a super bag. I currently use a Costco (Kirkland Signature) bag which I've modified to put one of the two unique ideas the TravelPro had (a foam roller in the "suiter" to keep garments from creasing as they are folded. The other unique idea, which was a zippered pocket on the rear of the bag just wasn't going to happen). At under $100, this bag competes very well against most bags in the $400 class, but includes a lifetime satisfaction guaranty (which is appreciated after finding out that a Hartman's lifetime guaranty didn't cover a busted zipper). My wife uses a Tumi which, while not a bad bag, doesn't offer any significant advantages compared to the Costco one. I'm not sure if Costco has reached Austria yet (I don't remember seeing it there, but I think it's at least reached the UK), but their standing behind the quality of the products they sell is a compelling reason to look at their products.

By the way, most people are not aware that (as a US citizen), once you go over your exemption, European goods from most countries currently have an import duty of 100% (to punish the bad Europeans for not importing our hormone laden beef). It wouldn't affect most tourists unless they, let's say, purchased an expensive piece of jewelry.

Jeff

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Author: grue22 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19169 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 7:48 PM
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Because of the amount of traveling we do, we're pretty particular about the suitcases we use. They have to keep the stuff inside protected from the gentle ministrations of assorted baggage handlers (and my own clumsiness). In the US, every manufacturer has ceased manufacturing (or offering) hard sided suitcases, other than those with zippers. The sides are thin and push in and the zippers are fragile. The only exception are the cases made in Germany by Rimowa which are extremely expensive. Samsonite makes lightweight, but tough hard sided cases in Europe which are not distributed in the US. They are functionally equivalent to the plastic Rimona's, but cost a fraction of the price (while still not cheap by US standards). A large bag (depending on specific style) runs about 200 Euros in Italy (same bag is 200 pounds in the UK, for example), from which I would get back about 28 Euros in VAT tax rebate when I take it from the EU.

I now own two of those Samsonite bags. I bought one while living in Vienna and the other during a return trip. I love 'em. They're great for rolling over the cobblestones.

I also have two of the old Travelpro carry ons that you mentioned. One has well over a million miles on it and has had both wheels replaced after they wore out. With all the (free) repairs it's had, it looks pretty ugly, but I love it.

Grue

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Author: 1poorguy Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 19170 of 21031
Subject: Re: Jeff goes East - Prequel Date: 12/31/2012 8:27 PM
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We have a couple of older cases we can't use anymore. They exceed the dimension limit (62 inches, I believe). At this point we have bought entirely new sets of bags (from Costco). They were made to meet those limits precisely (I measured). They're nothing special, though. The wheels are very nice, though (allowing the bag to stand on its own, and you can spin it easily without tilting).

We could use those bigger bags for road trips, I suppose, but we never do. Maybe we should give them to Goodwill (though anyone who bought them would have the same size problem).

1poorguy

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